Can’t buy? Why not borrow


If you’re reading this column, chances are you’re interested in fashion and a viewing of the new “Sex in the City” movie has either been thoroughly enjoyed or is at the top of your “To Do” list

I saw it with my own Mr. Big on the film’s opening day, and all I can say is… Shopping anyone? The number of gorgeous ensembles were so astounding that I put another viewing back on my must do list for another look at the fabulous clothes and accessories. Fashion was a cornerstone of the television series and is definitely front and center in the movie as well. The show taught the masses about Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik shoes, as well as the Fendi baguette and Hermes Birkin bag. The movie exemplifies over-the-top materialism, but in “Sex and the City” it’s simply part of it, as if it’s another character named “Fashion.” “Fashion” is great and assumes we, the audience, will all love her no matter how outlandish she appears.

One of “Fashion’s” story lines revolves around Carrie’s new assistant, Louise from St. Louis who is obsessed with Louis Vuitton. We find out that minimum wage-earning Louise fulfills her penchant for luxury handbags by renting them from an e-tailer called Bag Borrow or Steal. Bag Borrow or Steal is a real Web site that gives style-conscious consumers access to the ultra-luxe high end accessories they normally couldn’t get their hands on, by renting them out.

As a self-appointed handbag expert and avid collector of designer bags, I decided to research Bag Borrow or Steal. I was a little leery, but after all the “Sex and the City” buzz, how could it not be the real deal? The New York Times says, “For handbag addicts, it’s the ultimate fantasy: an endless stream of pristine designer bags delivered straight to one’s doorstep.” They guarantee the authenticity of each bag and have an amazing inventory. The Web site is very user friendly and hooks you by stating, “Your first luxurious ‘borrow’ is just a few steps away!” You can keep the items as long as you’d like and there’s never a late fee. There’s even an optional insurance policy available with each rental. Memberships are reasonably priced and feature a 20 percent discount, as well as a rewards program. If you fall in love with the borrowed item, you can request to “steal” it at a price based on the accessory’s age, condition and how easy it will be to replace.

The saying goes “practice what you preach” so how could I not try it? Deciding that just not any designer handbag would do, I opted for the ultimate designer handbag-one that I could never get my hands on - the Birkin by Hermes. The Birkin is the most sought after handbag on the planet and is a worldwide symbol of luxury. With an extensive waiting list this hard to get bag has a price tag that starts at $7,500 and can go into five and six digit prices depending on the bag’s material make-up. They’re distributed on unpredictable schedules in low quantities, which create a sense of scarcity and thus exclusivity. Bag Borrow or Steal had three Birkin’s available, so I rented the least expensive one for a week. I could barely contain my excitement when the bag arrived beautifully wrapped and in perfect condition two days later.

For the next week, my outfits revolved around the Birkin. When not using it, I displayed it proudly on a table near my front door, when I went shopping at higher end stores, I got better service and caught sales people admiring it all the time. On the flip side, I have several friends that had no idea what the Birkin was and I had to educate my husband on the phenomenon, as well. I always felt, however, I needed to tell them that it was rented. Letting them know I didn’t spend an insane amount of money on a bag was somehow very important to me-even with people I didn’t know.

After printing out my return label, I bid my friend Birkin farewell, relieved I didn’t damage it, but happy for having had it for a week. It was fun and as easy as the website proclaimed it would be. I recommend the service to anyone who loves accessories.

Check out pictures of my Birkin from Bag Borrow or Steal at